There are so many things to be learned while traveling, especially while traveling solo. Here are six things I learned. They are probably some of the more important lessons I learned.
1. You test limits and fears, propelled by curiosity. Traveling will put you in varying situations and present several opportunities you may not consider in a normal situation. Since you’re abroad, you have to do that thing right? You’ll never get a chance to climb that mountain, swim in that cave or see the far away beach again. So you are more inclined to do those things. You may move past fears, even if only momentarily. Some fears may fade away. Curiosity in those small moments will push you out of your comfort zone, so much so you may not even want to go back.
2. Being present. Surrounding yourself by new places, people, and cultures make you focus on those things and your present situation. You may become observant and light, as though everything is there for you to look at, study and enjoy in pure happiness.
3. Get in touch with yourself. An extended period of time alone, doing things on your own time and exactly as you want to allows you to realize what you prioritize and value and what you truly enjoy. In our ‘everyday’ lives, we tend to do things out of routine or because we’re expected to. Given so many options of experiences while traveling forces you to truly decide and examine what you enjoy and what interests you. For me, I realized an interest I wasn’t aware I had.
4. Self-confidence grows. This may not happen immediately, but when you’re so busy immersing yourself in a new place and learning about it, all the negativity society puts on you falls away. Then your mind forgets to worry about those things, and suddenly you’re more open, less inhibited, more confident.
5. You become more appreciative. Those of us who live middle class lives in first world countries have so much the rest of the world is deprived of, it’s easy to take advantage and forget how lucky and fortunate we are. Traveling to economically-challenged or weaker countries really brings those things to light. It may hit you while you’re walking through a poor neighborhood or when you’re looking for something in a grocery store, but at some point or another, you’ll reflect on your circumstances and truly appreciate them.
6. People are inherently good. This sounds silly, but traveling alone means you’ll occasionally need to rely on a stranger for help. Whether that means asking for directions or a translation, you’ll typically find that locals are more than willing to help.